Aids fear as 1m Britons get VD

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Britain is suffering an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases, with more than one million people a year infected and attending clinics.

Britain is suffering an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases, with more than one million people a year infected and attending clinics.

New figures out this week show the incidence of gonorrhoea in England and Wales has leapt in the past year by more than a quarter for men and by 30 per cent for women.

The rise is seen as an indication that unsafe sex is again on the rise following the suspension of the HIV/Aids campaigns of the 1990s.

The Department of Health recently predicted that the number of cases of heterosexual HIV/Aids would soon outstrip the number of cases in the "high risk" homosexual group.

The new figures have prompted calls from the Family Planning Association urging parents to begin educating their children about sex as young as eight.

The latest data, collated by the Public Health Laboratory in London, will be released this week, which is Sexual Health Awareness Week. As part of their campaign, the FPA is launching a video for parents to help them to talk to their children about sex and its risks. The FPA believes it is vital to start young, aiming the video at the parents of eight-to- 14-year-olds.

Anne Weyman, chief executive of the FPA, told The Independent on Sunday: "It is for children before puberty really so I suppose around eight upwards but the advice in it - the principles of being honest in what you say and using situations around you as props for bringing up the subject - could apply to younger children. What you talk to children about would depend on their age.

"Young people are really not aware of the risks of sexually transmitted infection though they do seem to be more aware of the problems of avoiding pregnancy."

She called for condoms, the use of which has been static since 1995 at around 18 per cent of sexually active people, to be made more readily available on the National Health Service, saying that provision had been "financially squeezed".

The Government said last year it would develop a new framework on sexual and reproductive health. But the Conservative health spokesman, Dr Liam Fox, believes more could be done to prevent people from relying on non-barrier contraception - the morning-after pill in particular.

Over the past 10 years, the use of the morning-after pill has risen sevenfold to 700,000 taking it last year. Dr Fox said: "We have been picking up some evidence of increased risk of infection and the rising use of the morning-after pill.

"If there is evidence that having the morning-after pill available over the counter and a reduction in the use of barrier contraceptives is shown to lead to an increase in infection, the over-the-counter policy should be reversed."

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